Student Life @Rice University
Situated on nearly 300 acres (1.2 km2) in the heart of Houston's Museum District and across the street from the city's Hermann Park, Rice is a green and leafy refuge – an oasis of learning convenient to the amenities of the nation's fourth-largest city. Rice's campus adjoins Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. Reliant Park, home of Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District is the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year. Easy access to downtown's theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus's main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff who need but currently don't utilize a vehicle.
Main article: Residential colleges of Rice University
In 1957, Rice University implemented a residential college system, as proposed by the university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett. The system was inspired by existing systems in place at Oxford and Cambridge in England and at several other universities in the United States, most notably Yale University. The existing residences known as East, South, West, and Wiess Halls became Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess Colleges, respectively.
List of residential colleges
This is a list of residential colleges at Rice:
- Baker College, named in honor of Captain James A. Baker, friend and attorney of William Marsh Rice, and first chair of the Rice Board of Governors.
- Brown College, named for Margaret Root Brown by her in-laws, George R. Brown.
- Duncan College, named for Charles Duncan, Jr., Secretary of Energy.
- Hanszen College, named for Harry Clay Hanszen, benefactor to the university and chairman of the Rice Board of Governors from 1946-1950.
- Jones College, named for Mary Gibbs Jones, wife of prominent Houston philanthropist Jesse Holman Jones.
- Lovett College, named after the university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.
- Martel College, named for Marian and Speros P. Martel, was built in 2002.
- McMurtry College, named for Rice alumni Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
- Sid Richardson College, named for the Sid Richardson Foundation, which was established by Texas oilman, cattleman, and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson.
- Wiess College, named for Harry Carothers Wiess (1887–1948), one of the founders and one-time president of Humble Oil, now ExxonMobil.
- Will Rice College, named for William M. Rice, Jr., the nephew of the university's founder, William Marsh Rice.
Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, they have over time developed their own traditions and "personalities". When students matriculatethey are randomly assigned to one of the eleven colleges, although "legacy" exceptions are made for students whose siblings or other close relatives have attended Rice. Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers, even if they move off-campus at any point. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces, collectively known as "Room Jacking". Students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike Race and O-Week. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing "jacks," or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week and Willy Week. During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.
The Baker 13 is a tradition in which students run around campus wearing nothing but shoes and shaving cream at 10 p.m. on the 13th and the 31st of every month (the 26th on months with fewer than 31 days). The event, long sponsored by Baker College, usually attracts a small number of students, but Halloween night and the first and last relevant days of the school year both attract large numbers of revelers.
Beer Bike Race
According to the official website: "Beer Bike is a combination intramural bicycle race and drinking competition dating back to 1957. Ten riders and ten chuggers make up a team. Elaborate rules include details such as a prohibition of "bulky or wet clothing articles designed to absorb beer/water or prevent spilled beer/water from being seen" and regulations for chug can design. Each residential college as well as the Graduate Student Association participates with a men's team, a women's team, and alumni (co-ed) team. Each leg of the race is a relay in which a team's "chugger" must chug 24 US fluid ounces (710 ml) of beer or water for the men's division and 12 US fluid ounces (350 ml) for women before the team's "rider" may begin to ride. Participants who both ride and chug are referred to as "Ironmen". Willy Week is a term coined in the 1990s to refer to the week preceding Beer-Bike, a time of general energy and excitement on campus. Jacks (pranks) are especially common during Willy Week; some examples in the past include removing showerheads and encasing the Hanszen guardian." The morning of the Beer Bike race itself begins with what is by some estimations the largest annual water balloon fight in the world. Beer-Bike is Rice's most prominent student event, and for younger alumni it serves as an unofficial reunion weekend on par with Homecoming. The 2009 Beer Bike race was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bill Wilson, a popular professor and long-time resident associate of Wiess College who died earlier that year.
In the event of inclement weather, Beer Bike becomes a Beer Run. The rules are nearly identical, except that the Bikers must instead run the length of the track. The most recent Beer Run occurred in 2016.
A number of on-campus institutions form an integral part of student life at Rice. Many of these organizations have been operating for several decades.
Rice Coffeehouse finds its beginnings in Hanszen College, where students would serve coffee in the Weenie Loft - a study room in the old section's fourth floor. Later, the coffee house moved to the Hanszen basement to accommodate more student patrons. That coffeehouse became known as Breadsticks and Pomegranates. Due to flooding, an unfortunate effect of 1) its location in the basement and 2) the Houston climate, this coffee house closed. Demand for an on-campus Coffeehouse grew and in 1990, the Rice Coffeehouse was founded.
The Rice Coffeehouse is a not-for-profit student-run organization serving Rice University and the greater Houston community. Over the past few years, it has introduced fair-trade and organic coffee and loose-leaf teas.
Coffeehouse baristas are referred to as K.O.C.'s, or Keepers of the Coffee. Rice Coffeehouse has also adopted an unofficial mascot, the squirrel, which can be found on T-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers stuck on laptops across campus. The logo pays tribute to Rice's unusually plump and frighteningly tame squirrel population.
Valhalla is a non-profit graduate student pub located under Keck Hall which serves as the social nexus for graduate student life at Rice, and the pub is primarily staffed and managed by volunteer Rice graduate students. The pub's patrons have expanded beyond graduate students and other members of the local community in recent years, and the pub has become a regular on the annual "Best of Houston" published by the Houston Press, being named the "Best Place to Meet Single Women" in 2004.
Willy's Pub is Rice's undergraduate pub run by students located in the basement of the Rice Memorial Center. It opened on April 11, 1975, with Rice President Norman Hackerman pouring the first beer. The name was chosen by students in tribute to the university's founder, William Marsh Rice. After the drinking age in Texas was raised in 1986, the pub entered a period of financial difficulties and in April 1995, was destroyed in a fire. The space was gutted but renovated and remains open.
Rice Bikes is Rice's newest student-run business. They function as a full-service on-campus bicycle store, rental shop, and repair shop. It originated in the basement of Sid Richardson College in February 2011. In spring 2012, it officially became the third student-run business. A group of students in a sociology class at Rice started a bicycle rental business, and in fall 2013 it and Rice Bikes merged. It is now located in the Rice Memorial Center.
Rice Bikes sells refurbished bicycles bought from students and functions as a full bicycle repair shop.
Rice has a weekly student newspaper (The Rice Thresher), college radio station (KTRU Rice Radio), and campus-wide student television station (RTV5). All three are based out of the RMC student center. In addition, Rice hosts several student magazines dedicated to a range of different topics; in fact, the spring semester of 2008 saw the birth of two such magazines, a literary sex journal called Open and an undergraduate science research magazine entitled Catalyst.
The Rice Thresher is published every Wednesday and is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top campus newspapers nationally for student readership. It is distributed around campus, and at a few other local businesses and has a website. The Thresher has a small, dedicated staff and is known for its coverage of campus news, open submission opinion page, and the satirical Backpage, which has often been the center of controversy. The newspaper has won several awards at Associated Collegiate Press conferences.
KTRU Rice Radio is the student-run radio station. Though most DJs are Rice students, anyone is allowed to apply. It is known for playing genres and artists of music and sound unavailable on other radio stations in Houston, and often, the US. The station takes requests over the phone or online. In 2000 and 2006, KTRU won Houston Press' Best Radio Station in Houston. In 2003, Rice alum and active KTRU DJ DL's hip-hip show won Houston Press' Best Hip-hop Radio Show. On August 17, 2010, it was announced that Rice University had been in negotiations to sell the station's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license to the University of Houston System to become a full-time classical music and fine arts programming station. The new station, KUHA, would be operated as a not-for-profit outlet with listener supporters. The FCC approved the sale and granted the transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011, however, KUHA proved to be an even larger failure and so after four and a half years of operation, The University of Houston System announced that KUHA's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license were once again up for sale in August 2015. KTRU continued to operate much as it did previously, streaming live on the Internet, via apps, and on HD2 radio using the 90.1 signal. Under student leadership, KTRU explored the possibility of returning to FM radio for a number of years. In spring 2015, KTRU was granted permission by the FCC to begin development of a new broadcast signal via LPFM radio. On October 1, 2015, KTRU made its official return to FM radio on the 96.1 signal. While broadcasting on HD2 radio has been discontinued, KTRU continues to broadcast via internet in addition to its LPFM signal.
RTV5 is a student-run television network available as channel 5 on campus. RTV5 was created initially as Rice Broadcast Television in 1997; RBT began to broadcast the following year in 1998, and aired its first live show across campus in 1999. It experienced much growth and exposure over the years with successful programs like "Drinking with Phil," a weekly news show, and extensive live coverage in December 2000 of the shut down of KTRU by the administration. In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station needed a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5. The station has recently set about revitalizing its staff roster and campus image; one of RTV5's most popular shows is the 24-hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stay on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students. RTV5 has a video on demand site at rtv5.rice.edu.
The Rice Review, also known as R2, is a yearly student-run literary journal at Rice University that publishes prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction written by undergraduate students, as well as interviews. The journal was founded in 2004 by creative writing professor and author Justin Cronin.
The Rice Standard is an independent, student-run variety magazine modeled after such publications as The New Yorker and Harper's. Prior to fall 2009, it was regularly published three times a semester with a wide array of content, running from analyses of current events and philosophical pieces to personal essays, short fiction and poetry. In August 2009, the Standard transitioned to a completely online format with the launch of their redesigned website, ricestandard.org. The first website of its kind on Rice's campus, the Standard now features blog-style content written by and for Rice students. The Rice Standard has around 20 regular contributors, and the site features new content every day (including holidays).
Open, a magazine dedicated to "literary sex content," predictably caused a stir on campus with its initial publication in spring 2008. A mixture of essays, editorials, stories and artistic photography brought Open attention both on campus and in the Houston Chronicle.The third and last annual edition of Open was released in spring of 2010.